Pattern based classification of endocervical adenocarcinoma: a review

Pathology. 2018 Feb;50(2):134-140. doi: 10.1016/j.pathol.2017.09.011. Epub 2017 Dec 11.


While endocervical adenocarcinoma is comprised of several histological subtypes, the most common subtype is human papillomavirus-associated usual type, and management of these tumours is primarily determined by FIGO (International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics) stage, a clinically based staging system. Early stage cervical cancer is determined by the pathological evaluation of tumour microscopic measurement (depth of invasion), which can be particularly challenging because of the lack of a defined point of origin. Yet important treatment decisions, cone versus radical surgery, are based on this imperfect system, resulting in overtreatment and related morbidities in many patients for whom it may not be necessary. There is a growing consensus, however, for a more conservative approach, one that reduces morbidity and prevents loss of fertility in these (often young) patients. This movement has been supported, in part, by the development of a morphology based risk stratification system which was devised in order to recognise those tumours that, while invasive, could potentially be treated more conservatively. In this review, we provide the reader with the background and rationale for a more conservative approach in treating endocervical adenocarcinoma, summarise the risk stratification system, and review the system's utility and reproducibility. In addition, we comment on recent updates that attempt to further refine the system. The application of this morphology based classification could help identify a subset of patients with endocervical adenocarcinoma (who would otherwise undergo radical surgery based on FIGO staging alone) that have good clinical outcomes and could be treated more conservatively.

Keywords: Endocervical adenocarcinoma; pattern based; review; risk stratification.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / classification*
  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / classification*
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / pathology*